We don’t have Guest Posters very often, but when we do they are Superstars!
In case you missed our honored guests, we recently had one of the leading marriage bloggers in the world, Alisa Bowman, on these electronic pages, telling us What Happily Married People Know. Wasn’t that awesome?
And we have had My-Favorite-Person-In-The-World, The Hubs, with what Video Games taught him about life and love…so juicy!
Today I am so thrilled my laptop is tingling!
I am honored and excited to introduce the Modern Married family to the wise and wonderful Kimberly Graham. Not only is she a lawyer, mediator and founder of HighRoadDivorce.com, she is a dearly beloved friend.
Kimberly has guided countless divorces through many peaceful and not-so-peaceful endings, so I had a feeling she could teach us all what bad divorces have taught her about happy marriages. It is my hope that we can all learn something to use *today*, to apply *now* so that our relationships flourish and our love grows.
With love and delight ModernMarried proudly presents:
What a Divorce Lawyer Knows About a Happy Marriage: 5 Ways to Prevent Divorce
By Kimberly Graham
I’ve been a divorce mediator and lawyer for 13 years. I’m also a divorce guide at HighRoadDivorce.com. I’ve been divorced. My parents were divorced. So I’ve been around the divorce block about 8,567 times. Based on all my clients’ stories, my own experiences, friends’ experiences and a lot of reading, I’ve collected my Top 5 Ways to Prevent Your Divorce.
1. Look in the Mirror.
This is still difficult for me to always accept and understand. I’m a work in progress, aren’t we all?
It really isn’t about him or her. It’s about you. Whatever the issue or disagreement, it comes back to what you can control and that’s you. You can never directly change your partner’s actions and reactions to you, to the kids, to work, to life. But you can change yours — and by doing that — you can indirectly change the dynamics in your marriage.
2. Do Not Blame and Criticize.
How do I know that relentless blame and criticism marks the beginning of the end of your marriage? Because that’s what I hear over and over from clients. They can tell me everything their partner has done wrong, but almost nothing they’ve done that contributed to the marriage’s demise.
I have plenty of personal experience with this, unfortunately. I was highly critical of my son’s father. I could only see in retrospect how destructive it was. At the time, I was sad, frustrated and angry. Could he have done some things differently to help alleviate my frustration? Sure. But the problem was the more I criticized, he understandably wanted to do less to make me happy. And so it went on, for years. Until things fell apart for good.
Oh yes, I hear you from here, right through the page… “but HE doesn’t help around the house” or “but SHE is spending all our money.”
Trust me, if you start with blame and criticism, the result will be defensiveness and disconnection.
Problems in the marriage must be addressed from love, not blame.
3. Be Happy.
More variations on the theme of “it’s about you.” Look, Beautiful, if you aren’t happy, you can’t create a happy marriage. Period. Allow me to quote myself (from my 13 years as an international flight attendant), “put your oxygen mask on first, then assist others.” Take care of yourself, get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, meditate, smile.
4. Have Sex Often Enough.
Ask him how often is often enough. If it’s too little or too much for you, find a compromise. It’s so easy to say “it’s his fault” or “it’s her fault” we never have sex. (see #2)
People, there is no way around this one. I often hear about the lack of sex in clients’ and friends’ marriages. There’s not enough space here to get into all the dynamics of the lack of sex issue. But I implore, encourage, and advise you to be physically intimate with your partner. Early and often, just like voting.
And listen up! This is not only directed at women. Sure, the stereotype is the husband wants sex and gets turned down by his wife, but I know this goes both ways. Wives get turned down or ignored, too.
See a therapist, work with a coach, read books, find out the reasons, drop the resentments and to quote the smart Nike slogan “just do it”.
Physical connection is critical to emotional intimacy, particularly for men, but for a heck of a lot of women, too. And when there’s no physical intimacy, it isn’t too long before the emotional intimacy goes, too. It’s only a matter of time in many marriages (not all, but many) before I hear about someone going outside the marriage to find both.
And when you have sex often enough, you create a reserve of forgiveness and compassion for one another.
Let’s look at two scenarios:
Option 1 –You just had amazing, passionate sex with your partner. Then you notice his socks on the floor again. How likely are you to get really worked up about it?
Option 2 – You haven’t had sex in a month, resentment is festering, you’re feeling unloved and unwanted and then you stumble over his unhampered socks again. How likely are you to get really angry about that now?
A note for the lower sex drive spouse: Am I saying that it’s your *fault* if your partner has sex with someone else? No. 100% no. What I’m saying is that by not having sex often enough, the chances that your marriage will run aground on a sand bar of disconnection, distance, resentment and infidelity are greatly increased.
5. Talk About Money.
I estimate over 80% of my divorce clients point to money issues as the reason for divorce. There are some really great books about couples and money out there. Please read one or two and talk, talk and then talk some more about money. Set up a weekly or monthly money date which has some fun built-in, like a nice dinner afterward. Map out what your money goals are and how you’ll get there. And realize that one joint checking account and one joint savings account is not the only path to financial harmony.
My mom and dad have had separate checking accounts for over 30 years now. (They each have access to both accounts, but one is understood to be mom’s and one is dad’s.) This has worked extremely well for them. So think outside the box to find what works for your marriage. Bottom line: frequent and regular communication is critical.
So, look in the mirror, avoid blaming and criticizing, create your own happiness rather than expecting your partner to provide it, have enough physical intimacy, and talk about money often. If you do, I’ll bet you beat the divorce odds and have a juicy, connected, joy-filled, laughing, super-fabulous marriage that lasts a lifetime. That is my dearest wish for you. xo, Kimberly
Kimberly Graham is the President & Founder of HighRoadDivorce.Com where she provides calm, experienced support and guidance on the divorce journey. Kimberly has been the child in a divorce and is divorced. She is passionate about helping people through divorce because she has lived it. She helps her clients find a better path than the old, negative, destructive methods and thought processes of divorce. She is also the Principal Attorney at Graham Law Collaborative in Des Moines, Iowa where she practices family law.
This is Maggie back to say that was Maximum Levels of Awesome in my book! THANK YOU Kimberly for sharing your insights and wisdom!
Now it’s your turn! Which one of these have you found most useful in your own relationship? Please share in the comments.